15-Year Anniversary of RP Photonics in 2019
15 years have already passed since RP Photonics has been founded! Now we celebrate the ongoing success. RP Photonics has become one of the most well-known companies in the area of photonics and is widely appreciated as supporting the whole photonics community.
The History of RP Photonics
In end of May 2004, RP Photonics Consulting GmbH was founded by Dr. Rüdiger Paschotta – at that time in Zürich, Switzerland. After a successful career as a researcher, he now offered technical consultancy in photonics: services like feasibility studies, independent assessments, problem solving and staff training. A challenging aspect of that start-up was that although Dr. Paschotta had a good reputation as a laser physicist among scientists, he was hardly known in the laser industry, his new target audience.
In September 2004, the company's website was equipped with the first version of the Encyclopedia of Laser Physics and Technology. In 2008, the encyclopedia was published by Wiley-VCH as a two-volume book, containing 555 articles on 844 pages. The online version grew only slightly further in the following years; mostly the quality of the content was improved further. This year (2019), however, Dr. Paschotta started again to massively add new articles – currently there are 1007 articles, and more is to come. The encyclopedia has also recently been renamed from Encyclopedia of Laser Physics and Technology to RP Photonics encyclopedia, emphasizing that it now covers most of the area of photonics. It has become extremely popular; typically obtaining well over 200,000 page views per month, it is the main driver of traffic on the RP Photonics website.
From the very beginning, a particular strength of RP Photonics was its powerful simulation software. Initially, this was only used for consultancy, i.e., for calculating results for customers. Later, sales of software user licenses were expanded more and more rapidly. Nowadays, a wide range of both companies, universities and research institutes is using simulation and design software from RP Photonics – most often the product RP Fiber Power, which probably has become the market leader in this topical area. While initially it targeted only continuous-wave and pulsed fiber lasers and amplifiers, it is now also very useful e.g. for designing ultrafast lasers and amplifiers, various passive fiber-optic devices, and even many bulk lasers. We also substantially improved further the user interface of various software packages. For example, one can now produce custom forms, with which simulation models can be used very easily.
In December 2010, RP Photonics moved to Bad Dürrheim in southern Germany (about 100 km north of Zürich). This was done essentially because the founder and his wife found a beautiful property there, which also provided the required office space. As the majority of customers was anyway always outside Switzerland, the new location was just as suitable for the business as the old one. Particularly those customers who were discussing projects while sitting on the terrace would not deny that.
In summer 2012, the new RP Photonics Buyer's Guide was established on the website. As it is intimately connected with the Encyclopedia of Laser Physics and Technology, it profited from the enormous user community of that resource and had substantial traffic from the very beginning. In autumn 2018, we have substantially revised the system, now offering an all-inclusive ad package with much increased power for the photonics marketing and at the same time simplified price structure and expanded service. We expect that photonics marketing will become the most important business sector for RP Photonics within the next years.
Currently, the simulation software business is most important for RP Photonics. It has overtaken the consulting business many years ago and is developing well. As software license fees include substantial technical support, which can be used even for advice on scientific and technical issues, this can partly be regarded as a special extension of the consulting business. Note that competent support belongs to the most important aspects of software for sophisticated technical and scientific simulation and design work. The high reputation of Dr. Paschotta, who does both the development and the technical support personally, gives these software offers a very high credibility.
Although the technical consulting business is no longer so important for our turnover, Dr. Paschotta still enjoys e.g. to do staff training on specialized topics in the form of tailored courses, performed at the customer's place. Particularly bigger companies increasingly realize that the competence of their work force is essential for further success, and that there is hardly a more effective way of boosting it than such courses. Also, companies are expected to increasingly realize that competent feasibility studies and similar services are essential for keeping the success rate and efficiency of development projects high.
Surely, you can count on RP Photonics to develop further dynamically, benefiting the community worldwide!